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The Government of El Salvador Acknowledges El Mozote Massacre as World Observes Human Rights Day

As part of the 36th anniversary of El Mozote Massacre, the government divulged the following information made available by records that have been collected since last year: “The record contains the names of 1698 victims. Of the 1698 victims, 986 were executed during El Mozote massacre, of which 552 were children and 434 adults. The remaining 712 individuals are survivors, family members of those executed and displaced individuals by the operations of the Army.”

The 1993 report from the United Nations Truth Commission states that between Dec 10 and 13 of 1981, units of the Atlácatl Batallion “systematically and deliberately tortured and executed” women, children and men.

In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos) ordered the creation of the “Official and Unique Register of the Victims and Family Members of the Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Massacres of El Mozote and the Surrounding Areas.”

The Technical Secretary to the President, Roberto Lorenzana, alongside President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, visited the town of El Mozote to discuss the progress the government of El Salvador has made in complying with this mandate.

Secretary Lorenzana shared with the residents of El Mozote that “although the majority of the victims have been identified, the official record remains open until the totality of the victims are incorporated.”  

The recognition of El Mozote Massacre coincides with the observance of Human Rights Day, an event celebrated annually on Dec 10.

As part of this celebration, various organizations have released information recording violations of human rights.

On Friday, the Investigative Commission of Attacks Against Journalists (La Comisión Investigadora de Atentados a Periodistas) released a report that at least 37 journalists have been murdered in eight Latin American countries just in 2017. The report also indicates that 27 forced disappearances of journalists and 22 violent deaths occurred in Mexico alone.

According to the report, Mexico and Honduras are the Latin American countries in which the most amount of complaints have been filed regarding murder attempts, attacks, death threats, and acts of espionage.

Additionally, the United Nations Women organization has called to put an end to femicide in Latin America, a region where out of three women over the age of 15 have suffered from sexual violence. Femicide is a hate crime defined as the “murder of a woman based on her gender.”

According to UN Women, 14 out of 25 countries of the world with highest rates of femicide are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Comisión Económica para América Latina y El Caribe), 1,831 cases of femicide were registered in 16 countries across the region in 2016.

On this year’s celebration of Human Rights Day, we remember the victims of El Mozote Massacre, alongside the journalists and women suffering from violence. May today’s remembrance, alongside the denouncement of such acts made public by various organizations and governments, serve to combat the violation of human rights that has unfortunately and tragically been a part of Latin American history.